The following is the latest e-mail, sent out yesterday 10th December by Pat Waterman, Chair of Napo Greater London Branch, but will be of interest and assistance to members everywhere:-
TO: Napo members
It ain’t necessarily so.
At a meeting with Senior Management this afternoon, we were advised that "assignment" letters and "expression of interest" letters will be sent out to all staff by first class post tomorrow.
Advice from our national officers and officials is that on receipt of this letter you should register a grievance. By doing so you will be demonstrating your concerns about the impact that the decision of the Senior Management Team to implement this process will have on you as an individual.
In effect you are all going to be told that you are either going through door A or door B without being given all the information about what lies on the other side of those doors.
Why should I register a grievance?
As an employee of LPT (which you still are) you are entitled to use the Grievance Policy to raise with your employer (which is still LPT) any questions relating to your individual employment.
Registering a grievance is an individual act. But if we all do it then it will have a significant effect on LPT’s ability to implement the Staff Transfer Scheme within the time limits laid down by this government because LPT MUST act within the terms of its own policies and procedures and hear your grievance.
In the first instance your grievance must be raised with your line manager. Although this is the “informal” stage of a grievance I would advise you to still do it in writing and send me a copy. According to the policy they must respond to you orally as soon as practicable and confirm the decision within five working days. If you remain unsatisfied (which you probably will) you should make your grievance formal by submitting it on the Formal Grievance Form to the second line manager within ten working days of receiving the oral reply. Again you should send me a copy and feel free to put me down as your trade union representative.
National advice is also that you insert the following at the end of your grievance to protect your interests:
During the grievance process I intend to continue to perform my duties and participate in the staff transfer process.
I reserve my right to :
Take action to protect my position and enforce my rights under my contract of employment
Take action to retrospectively protect my position in relation to any outcome of continuing negotiation/conciliation at the Probation Service National Negotiating Council which may impact on the matters set out in your letter to me and any consequences arising from it
What can I use as the basis of my grievance?
By definition a grievance is an individual matter and it is therefore not possible for me to issue you with a standard template.
Our national officers and officials have previously issued advice on constructing your individual grievance. You should tailor it to your individual circumstances but here are some examples of the things you might mention:
If you are assigned to the NPS you may be subject to additional restrictions. Do you have full details of these
If you are assigned to the CRC you have insufficient information about who you will be working for post transfer or after share sale
If you are asked to express a preference you have insufficient information on which to make an informed decision
If you have a protected characteristic you may have concerns about the impact of a change of employer.
Please look at the national advice which is attached below.
Essentially, if you have any questions about the staff transfer process and your future employment then use them to formulate your grievance.
You are entitled to ask your employer to provide you with all the information you need to either make an “expression of interest” or agree to any “assignment”.
It is unlikely that LPT will be able to answer all your questions or provide sufficient information to address all your concerns. This is as a consequence of their decision to implement a process which has not yet been agreed at a national level.
Should I register a grievance even if I am satisfied with the post to which I have been assigned?
We are against the plans of this government to “split” the probation service so in that sense “satisfied” is a relative term. In being satisfied with what you are being offered you are making the best of a bad situation. You should also perhaps consider your colleagues who in these terms may not have been as fortunate. The answer to this question is YES
Can registering a grievance affect any future assignment?
It should not. Every member of staff has the right to register a grievance. This will provide you with individual protection in the future. If, as a consequence of registering a grievance, LPT decided to withdraw or change your assignment this would be prima facie grounds for appeal.
What’s the difference between registering a grievance and lodging an appeal?
Your grievance will be about the PROCESS of staff assignment. It will be about either your assignment to a post or employer (about which you have insufficient information) or a request that you make an expression of interest (again on the basis of insufficient information).
An appeal would be about your actual assignment which for some of you will be after everyone has been sorted and sifted. The grounds for appeal are very tightly defined. Registering a grievance does not affect your right to appeal, if appropriate, later on.
What happens if I fail to express an interest?
It might be perhaps better to ask how you can possibly express an interest when you don’t know what you are letting yourself in for. LPT have already indicated that if posts are oversubscribed they will employ a “sifting” process which even Heather Munro has gone on record as saying is “objective” if not necessarily fair. If LPT do not properly apply their own “sifting” process this will in itself be grounds for appeal.
So what have you got to gain by expressing a preference other than colluding in a process that is far from “fair”.
I intend to register a grievance but I have also been asked to sign and return a copy of my letter to confirm receipt. What should I do?
In an ideal world this local process would NOT be taking place before national negotiations had been concluded. There would then be no need for you to register a grievance.
In an ideal world your grievance would be resolved (to your satisfaction) before you are asked to indicate if you agree with your assignment or before you are asked to express a preference.
But this is not an ideal world so the advice from our national office is that you should sign and write and add the following:
I note that this letter has been sent without national agreement. I feel under pressure to make a decision about my future without the necessary information to do so. I therefore return this letter without prejudice.
I am happy to give further advice to you on an individual basis.